Students get large headstart on voting process

By Tony Parra

Some extremely early voters selected their U.S. presidential candidate on Monday, 10 years before the government actually recognizes their vote.
Some students from Portales elementary schools have voted and others will vote today for the candidate they would like to see serve for the next four years.
Steiner Elementary first-graders voted on Monday for the presidential candidate and their overwhelming choice for president is George W. Bush. There were 133 votes (63 percent) for Bush and 78 votes (37 percent) for John Kerry at the end of the election.
“I don’t like Kerry because he wants to raise taxes for people who don’t work,” Delaney House-Swift, a first-grader, said.
First-grade students entered a voting booth decorated with photos of Bush and Kerry and the door they entered has red, white and blue decorations much like the American flag.
First graders Bailey Rowley and Anthony Pacheco said they voted for Bush, but Alex Rodriguez said he voted for Kerry. Rodriguez said he talked with his parents about the presidential election on his birthday (Sept. 9) and on that day he decided he would vote for Kerry.
There will be sixth-grade voters out in full-force today voting for their candidate at Lindsey Middle School.
Dustin Nuckols, sixth grader, said he supports Kerry and has had conversations with his mom about the candidates.
“My mom is a teacher and she talked to me about some of the things Bush has done to schools,” Nuckols said. “That is why I’m going to vote for Kerry.”
Nuckols said he’s heard other students talk about who they’re going to vote for, but they didn’t say why they were voting for the candidate. Bradi Carthel, sixth grade student, did say why she was choosing Bush over Kerry.
“Because he’ll be a strong leader,” Carthel said. “Kerry always copies everything Bush does. My parents want to vote for Bush, too.”
Carthel said this is the first time she has participated in a presidential election in any way. She said this event will encourage her to vote when she gets older.
Meanwhile, James Elementary students, composed of second- and third-grade students, will also be voting at their school today. Christina Tapia, second grader, said she would like to vote for Kerry.
“I would vote for Kerry because he’s going to stop the war and bring back the troops,” Tapia said.
Josh Chacon, James Elementary third-grader, said he wants to vote for Kerry. House-Swift, Rowley, Pacheco, Carthel and Nuckols said they wanted to vote for the same candidate their parents wanted to vote for. However, Chacon offers a unique prospective.
“My mom believes that Kerry won’t be good for the country,” Chacon said. “But I think he will be good for the country. Bush said Kerry is going to destroy the world. I don’t believe that. He is saying that so he can get more votes.”
Valencia Elementary fifth-graders voted in a poll on Friday and, according to Valencia Elementary officials, Bush won in a landslide with 79 percent of the votes while Kerry had 21 percent of the votes.
Portales High School students also wrote editorial columns for their school newspaper, the Ram Page, in an Oct. 27 issue. Students were able to read different viewpoints of the candidates with Laura Thornburgh, PHS senior, in favor of Bush and Chris Esparsens, PHS junior, in favor of Kerry.